Sent: 19-10-2010 11:02:04
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Trade Practices Audits - part 1
If asked to list the requirements for a trade practices compliance review or audit many companies would suggest the following:
- cold, damp, dark room;
- really bright light;
- hard metal chair;
- two auditors (good cop/ bad cop);
- giant cartons of documents;
- on-hand security staff to escort the person who will eventually be 'blamed' from the building.
However, the excellent news is that this scenario could not be further from the truth ... the chairs we use are plastic.
But seriously, many companies view a review or audit of their trade practices compliance measures as an onerous obligation. It should however be viewed as an opportunity to gain a valuable insight into the way their business operates and how this can be improved.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) recent publication Corporate Trade Practices Compliance Programs, and other recent initiatives by the competition watchdog, highlight the many positive benefits for companies that can follow from the process of a trade practices review or audit. We have listed what we think are the top 3 benefits for a company (in no particular order):
1. Permission to shine
Lets face it, when invest our time and money into something and can see the rewards - it always is nice to be provided with an opportunity to tell someone about it.
When a company has come under investigation from the ACCC (and has offered a section 87B undertaking to the ACCC or had orders made against it by the Federal Court) then they have taken a big hit. Their company's reputation may have come under attack by the media, the company name will appear on the ACCC's website, their staff may have been traumatised by the experience (they may even lose staff) and the company may be facing significant financial outlays.
This experience is enough to leave many company managers reeling. They are faced with the prospect of having to put in place trade practices compliance measures and educate their staff (often within a short period of time). They also need to quickly come up to speed with the requirements of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) and the legal concepts involved.
When - usually a year down the track - all of these efforts are reviewed or audited, this is when the companies that have taken their obligations seriously will have the opportunity to show the ACCC what they have done and demonstrate their commitment to compliance.
When the reviewer or auditor lodges their report with the ACCC, the ACCC will provide a response. The publication or distribution to company staff of a positive response is a great way for a company to congratulate the efforts of its staff and to reassure its staff and other stakeholders that it is working hard to ensure compliance with the TPA. The company may even wish to publish a positive review on its website as an 'update' about the trade practices issue and use the findings of the review in board or annual reports.
Watchdog Compliance Pty Ltd
Watchdog Compliance specialises in assisting companies to achieve effective on-going trade practices compliance. Watchdog Compliance regularly conducts risk assessments, compliance program development and implementation, tailored compliance officer and staff training, reviews and audits.
We work closely with our clients to get to know the way their business operates, their key staff and their company objectives. We work to ensure that our clients not only comply with their legal obligations, but that they get the trade practices information and assistance needed to grow their company. If you would like any further information about our services please click here.
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